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Yesterday I wrote a blog post on why people have a need to be right.  Yesterday evening I came across an article that hit the same points, but on a different subject – science.

Here’s a paragraph from the piece:

“Science” is usually equated by proponents of this view with empiricism or, in many fields, with a method of inquiry that employs controls, blinding, and randomization. Now, a small group of contemporary psychologists have published a series of provocative experiments showing that faith in science can serve the same mentally-stabilizing function as religious beliefs.

My point here is not to rip on science.  I’m not one of those people who believes that science and religion have to be in conflict.  Quite the contrary.  I think the two compliment each other because they explore two very different things – the how and the why.

The point is this – our need for certainty and being right can come in a variety of venues – including science.

One of my favorite quotes from the article is this:

…beliefs about science may be defended emotionally, even if they are false, as long as they provide a reassuring sense of order. That is to say, beliefs about science may be defended thoughtlessly—even unscientifically.

So what does it mean that both religious and scientific outlooks may function to becalm our existential anxieties? What we believe, the parallel implies, can sometimes be less important than h​ow ​we believe it. In other words, deep faith in science is sometimes just another form of (irrational) extremism.

Amen.  True for science, true for religion, true for politics, and true for most things in life.